Best of Utah 2017 | Our annual celebration of the Best our state has to offer is here! | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City
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    Best crowd-funded public service announcement
    Cosmopolitan magazine is Porn billboard on I-15

    Thanks to the Utah state government, all those who were not already clued-in know that porn is a goddamned health crisis. Certainly, this creates a sort of chicken-and-egg conundrum—I mean, what's the real problem and which came first: naked people in magazines, or the incessant need to flog one's dolphin? My vote is on the dolphin-flogger coming first, but that's neither here nor there, but probably on the ceiling or on the floor. With this new crisis, how are we, the lay people of Utah, to know what porn is? Well, a lot of that knowledge is still pixelated, but thanks to Victoria Hearst and her group's crowdfunded billboard, I-15 travelers now know, specifically, that Cosmopolitan magazine is a pornographic publication. Sure, content like "The STI Crisis Facing Millennial Women," "Life of Kylie Tries and Fails to Make Kylie Jenner Seem Relatable" and "The 10 Best Fall Nail Polish Colors" might not be your usual cup of pornographic tea, but this billboard says it is porn! And, most horrific of all, it hurts kids. Take their word for it. I mean, God forbid your little boy want to know which nail polish colors are going to be hot, hot, hot come summer. (JF)

    Best reason to drink at home
    The Utah Legislature

    Isn't it fitting that Utah became the first state to pass a law lowering its DUI limit from .08 BAC to .05 right after it reported a record profit from its state-run liquor stores? Hmm. The Beehive State is no stranger to strange liquor laws, but there's evidence this new bill is frightening patrons away from bars. Gov. Gary Herbert, who initially intended to call a special session to iron out the details before it goes into effect at the end of 2018, says troopers suspect a decrease in DUIs already. Maybe it's true. But if liquor store sales keep climbing, one has to assume that people are still drinking boatloads of booze, beer and wine that, in turn, feeds the state's bottom line. (DWH)

    Best Shakespearean kismet
    Utah Shakespeare Festival

    Each year, the Cedar City-based Shakespeare festival never ceases to surprise with its out-of-the-box thinking. 2017 was no different with the delightful pairing of the theater version of the hit film Shakespeare in Love with Romeo and Juliet. The movie explored Shakespeare's creative and emotional milieu against a backdrop of writing and staging Romeo. The festival playfully had many of the same actors appear in both plays, most powerfully Betsy Mugavero as Shakespeare's love interest and muse Viola and then as Juliet. Mugavero's Viola and her Juliet were both jewels in solid productions, as well as a reminder that even Shakespeare can be brushed up on once in awhile. (SD)

    Best radio censuring device
    Doug Fabrizio's bleep button

    If you turned on the radio midway through a rebroadcast RadioWest episode in May, you might have thought by the amount of bleeped "f*ck"s and "sh*t"s coming from host Doug Fabrizio's mouth that he had lost his godd*mn mind. But of course, Fabrizio, the incisive yet soft-spoken consummate motherf*ckin' professional was getting to the core of our understanding of curse words during a smart, elucidating interview. A mainstay of Utah public radio, Fabrizio and RadioWest in January moved to a new 9 a.m. time slot. If you can't catch the NPR program at its new hour, quit your b*tching. Episodes are available in podcast form the day of. (DWH)
    KUER 90.1,

    Best LGBTQ online resource
    Queer Friends

    Say what you want about social media and its negative effects on our culture. For some people, it's a godsend. For LGBTQ folks in Salt Lake City, one of the most popular online social resources has been Queer Friends on Meetup, currently at 1,384 members and counting. Events are posted weekly, including camping, Oktoberfest outings, movie nights, discussion groups and everything in between. And if you're a Meetup member, you can also join their Facebook group, a great resource for those looking to share stories, get advice or assistance on anything from housing to employment, and generally just stay updated on community happenings. (AH)


    Best print magazine to help you weather the end of times
    The Friend Magazine

    If you aren't one to frequent Mormons' regularly scheduled Sunday sacrament soirée, you might not be aware that the world is ending. I mean, technically it's been ending since it began, so apocalyptic claims shouldn't be terribly weighty, but alas, we will not go there. In such allegedly perilous times, dear reader, we are all truly blessed to have a few beacons of righteousness. Namely, the subject of this prestigious award, The Friend Magazine. For more than 40 years, the children-focused publication has helped Utah's children and others abroad eliminate sacrament meeting boredom and, especially for the girls, quell thoughts of dying in a heavenly, end-of-the-world fire for occasionally wearing tank tops. To boot, the magazine isn't just for children. In such a morally bankrupt epoch, when just about all media for adults contain porn—especially this rancid publication—you can rest easy knowing there is nothing in The Friend Magazine that would raise any theocratic government's eyebrows. (JF)

    Best way to get that warm fuzzy feeling
    Love Lake City

    Once a month, bright-eyed volunteers with Love Lake City gather to make someone's day a little bit better. Whether it's organizing charity motorcycle rides to benefit cancer patients, cleaning up the Wasatch's beloved trails or making sandwiches to hand out to the hungry, each month's activity is an exercise in community togetherness. Anyone can volunteer, and many of the events are kid friendly. Can't make it out to the next project? You can always donate—their annual fundraiser is Nov. 4. (SA)


    Best 2016 event that happened too late to include in BoU 2016
    Mayan Riders Anniversary at the Mexican Civic Center

    The inside of the Mexican Civic Center resembles the social hall of an LDS ward meetinghouse, minus the carpeted basketball court and funeral potatoes. Last November, it was the scene of the Mayan Riders motorcycle club's 12th anniversary. While excellent local Latino rock bands like Cenizas Ajenas, La Calavera, Call Musor and Leyenda Oculta rocked the house, the MC members sold cans of PBR from the kitchen. I wound up in the green room (the men's room) with beers stuffed in every pocket, drunkenly bullshitting with Leyenda's Gabino Ramirez and Angel Martinez, and Mayan Riders Beto and Pelón. They explained that the Mayan Riders would donate the night's proceeds to a local woman for her cancer treatment. Partying with bikers in a place that reminds you of the oppression of your youth, and for charity? Now that's a party. (RH)
    2726 S. 2700 West, West Valley City, 801-706-2311

    Best concert I didn't get to see
    El Tri, et al. at 801 Event Center

    Let's give some Trump fans a heart attack: The Mexicans are coming! Every year, more and more rock en Español acts cross our borders and steal our attention with their excellent music. Por ejemplo, the band El Tri—tantamount to the Rolling Stones in Mexico—has made multiple visits to SLC. This includes a Sept. 1 show at the 801 Event Center with Mario Ian, the former singer for noteworthy Mexican power/thrash-metal quintet Rata Blanca, long running rap-rock outfit Kinto Sol, alt-rockers El Sur and cumbia band Los del Kañia. Although we ran a slobbery preview of the show, the promoters couldn't be troubled to return a call for media passes—which would've resulted in more coverage. Come on, dudes. We're just trying to help. (RH)

    Best puppet performance
    Riley O'Toole, Salt Lake Acting Co.'s Hand to God

    Acting is inherently a challenge; taking on the job performing multiple characters in the same play, even more so. Then there's the weird case of Riley O'Toole in Salt Lake Acting Co.'s production of Robert Askins' Hand to God, playing a teenager named Jason who is possessed by "Tyrone," the sock-puppet he creates in a church-sponsored program. The show itself is hilariously, blasphemously profane, but it's O'Toole's terrific lead performance—on in which his hand appears to have taken on a life of its own—that captures a troubled kid's dark heart manifested in a piece of dirty laundry. (SR)

    Best bags full of hope
    Anne B Designs

    The "Anne B" of Anne B Designs is actually a Sarah—Sarah Burroughs—but that's not the only way this business is surprising. Burroughs initially launched a home-based business creating custom handbags while still a student at BYU, but experience volunteering in Uganda gave her a desire to use her business to improve the lives of women. Now, after working in conjunction with leaders of local refugee employment operations, Burroughs trains and employs refugees as seamstresses in her Salt Lake City shop, helping create both beautiful products and new opportunities. (SR)


    Best F.U. to the DABC
    Brewvies decision

    When DABC agents decided to save Salt Lake City from the poisonous ammonia-and-bleach combo of R-rated movies and alcohol, they must've been drunk. 'Cause that was kinda stupid. People all over the valley watch more objectionable content and ingest worse substances at home. Stopping Brewvies from letting people watch Deadpool while drinking rescues no one from nothing. So when the gavel banged to punctuate the exoneration of Brewvies, didn't it make you wanna do the nanny-nanny boo-boo dance? (RH)

    Best leather seats from the '20s and Wi-Fi from the '90s
    FrontRunner's Comet Cars

    If you've ever sat in a comet car while riding FrontRunner, then you know what it's like to be transported back to the 1920s, where all the seats were leather and people avoided eye contact for fear of being called a communist. The car's design is a simple, single-level commuter coach with forward- or backward-facing seats, which means no interlocking knees with strangers like in the newer, two level cars. I admire the comet cars because they feel like "the good ol' days" I've been spoon fed into believing by classic movies. Although I neither drink scotch nor smoke, this car would be a good place to start. (RM)


    Best trans pride products

    Gender dysphoria is an often crippling feeling of distress experienced by people whose gender identity doesn't match their biology. For many, the solution involves surgery, bills from which can be upward of $6,000. That was the case for Ian Giles, a transgender man in Orem whose company, Genderbands, originally started as a fundraiser for his own double mastectomy in July 2015. Now he sells wristbands and T-shirts—with uplifting, fun phrases like "hearts, not parts" or "pizza rolls, not gender rolls"—to raise awareness and support and help ease the financial burdens of others like him. For every sale, 20 percent of the profits goes toward a top surgery fund for trans men. Giles says his favorite part of the biz has been participating in Pride festivals around the state. "I've had people of all ages come to my booth and share their stories—from shy 12-year-old transguys just coming out, to 40-year-olds exhausted from years of fighting with insurance companies who won't pay for their surgeries," he says. "Sometimes people will just hang out at the booth. I love it." (AH)

    Best Tabletop sampling
    Salt Lake Gaming Con

    Conventions might seem like a place to immerse yourself in the things you already know and love—and in the broadest sense, that's also true of the Salt Lake Gaming Con. But while the summer event offers appeal to those who love all kinds of gaming, from computer to tabletop, it's a great place to try out a game you've never played before. The game library provides a chance to grab something that looks interesting, put up a sign that says you're looking for someone to join you, or get help and tips. Local game-creators are represented as well, making it a great way to experiment before supporting Utah developers. (SR)


    Best generic hipster mural
    Vexta's "The Nature of Wisdom"

    Salt Lake City is in the middle of a historic conservation identity crisis. For every Classic Bowling pin preservation, there are several wrecking balls salivating over the next Granite High School-worthy plot. So it was with great dismay that I joined a collective groan emanating from many a downtown denizen upon noticing the disappearance of the Impact vehicle repair ghost sign on the south side of State Street's Zim's Building. Sure, like many of its former advertisement counterparts, it was faded and had seen its glory days long gone, but it had defiant charm. More charm than a five-story owl furiously salad-shooting Technicolor confetti from its rear, at least. (EL)

    Best yard sale for people who can't afford yard sales
    SLC Neighborhood Cleanup

    SLC Neighborhood Cleanup is better known by those in the know as an "amnesty day for hoarders." Setup by SLCgreen, the program is part of a broader effort to reduce energy consumption, ensure healthy air and slow an eventual doomsday. During your block's designated week, large waste such as mattresses, stumps and refrigerators can be left on the sidewalk and will be picked up by cleanup crews. In the meantime, take advantage of what other people consider garbage and grab yourself some furniture to fill up that storage container of a house you've got. (RM)
    Salt Lake City Waste & Recycling, 801-535-6999, April-October,

    Best outside-the-box listening party
    Winter Grain at Clark Planetarium

    You've experienced Laser Floyd. And Laser Zeppelin. And Laser U2. Now comes the next evolution of the every stoner's favorite midnight planetarium attraction. Ladies and gentledudes, please put your hands together for ... Laser Winter Grain! You heard me, motherfolkers—even acoustic music is compatible with technology. You know what else? This was a bid by the band to get people to put their stupid phones away and really listen. And it worked. The Clark Planetarium staff, in conjunction with the band, juxtaposed imagery both appropriate and abstract for a full-immersion multimedia experience that made the music more immediate and present, engaging multiple senses and causing eruptions of gooseflesh. Lucky for us, Winter Grain plans a reprise during Sundance. (RH)
    110 S. 400 West, 385-468-7827,

    Best outfitter to help you ward off missionaries, intrusive neighbors and your Mormon grandparents

    Every non-Mormon Utah-dweller is at most two familial and or friendly relationships away from Mormonism. Them Mormons are unavoidable, and so, too, are the banal queries from the swarming, evangelical mass: So, have you ever thought about coming to church? I've got this book you'd love—would you want to try reading it? When you die, do you, like, believe nothing happens? As the saying goes, if you can't beat 'em, join them—well, maybe trick them into thinking you're one of them by adopting a few key items of their homogenous garb, all of which can be provided by your savior, Ringmasters. Going to a Saturday morning baptism? Try Ringmaster's silver liahona microfiber tie ($16.99). The neighbors invited you to a Monday evening, family "get together"? Throw Ringmaster's spinner universal CTR ring ($21.99), featuring the CTR acronym in multiple languages. Whatever the occasion, Ringmasters has the stuff to help you fit right in and avoid small talk that mutates into a discussion about creating a planet with a Swig on every corner. (JF)

    Best diner-related apparel
    Order Up Clothing

    Is the vintage American diner theme missing from your wardrobe? Slip on one of Order Up Clothing's super soft T-shirts and problem solved. The Lunch Lady is an instant classic and the Neon Sign has nostalgia woven into every thread. If hats are more your thing, they've got those, too, but the best part is the Salt Lake City-based company allocates a portion of each sale to feeding the underprivileged. (SA)

    Best coin-operated mural
    Liberty Coin Laundry

    Nah, you can view this beauty for free. The angelic washers with wings painted dumping (presumably) clean clothes over a pristine landscape on the side of Liberty Coin Laundry makes going to the laundromat almost bearable. It's the closest thing to street art this side of town has, but, hey, we'll take it. (SA)
    309 E. 1300 South, 801-487-4016,


    Best de facto political farewell
    Jason Chaffetz Feb. 9 Town Hall

    When Congressman Jason Chaffetz entered the room for a packed town hall in Cottonwood Heights on Feb. 9, he was a rising Republican star and chair of the powerful House Oversight Committee. By the time he left just an hour later, he had been booed, heckled and generally raked over the coals by constituents demanding "do your job" to the man responsible for holding the Trump administration accountable for possible ethical and legal misconduct. It was perhaps the first indication that Chaffetz wasn't prepared for the thornier, less politically showy task of overseeing a president from his own party. Just two months later, Chaffetz had announced his intention to retire, eventually taking a job with Fox News—where he's far less likely to face booing and hecklers. (SR)

    Best native plant love fest down south
    Coal Creek Trail

    Follow this trail up into the canyons above Cedar City and you'll discover a man-made path that celebrates Utah's native plants even as it educates. Plaques before shrubs and trees share a few points about individual species, such as box elder and cottonwood, reminding the walker or jogger of the rich variety of nature that Utah is home to. As you head up the winding path, the burble of a neighboring creek keeps you company, only for low-hanging clouds caught between the red-rock canyons to provide a master lesson in the natural beauty that is the Beehive State. (SD)

    Best complaint about a campaign attack ad
    John Curtis' unflattering suit

    A debate between three 3rd District Republicans turned testy when KSL Radio host Doug Wright broached the subject of negative campaigning. Eventual primary winner and current Provo Mayor John Curtis slammed his opponent Tanner Ainge for sending out mailers that he says contained distortions and half-truths. But what really seemed to stick in Curtis' craw was the image Ainge's campaign had plastered on the fliers. "If you would Photoshop me, the least you could do is put me in a suit that fits," Curtis complained. Ainge should probably step up his Photoshop game, anyway. Then maybe the next time he runs for office, he'll do better than a distant third. (DWH)


    Best laidback body mods
    Abyss Body Piercing

    Courtney McCabe, owner of Abyss Body Piercing, fosters a personal, safe and special environment. Instead of rushing to stick a needle inside of your fragile body in order to maximize the amount of customers she pierces everyday, McCabe and her employees ensure that you have a quality experience at her studio. She spends precious time informing you about the significance of your chosen piercing and making what could be a cold, quick appointment into a comforting and educational experience. Abyss Body Piercing values honesty and safety over profit. (JV)
    245 E. 300 South, 801-810-9247,

    Best full circle for a sociopath
    Dan Wells' John Wayne Cleaver book and film saga

    In 2009, local author Dan Wells' I Am Not a Serial Killer introduced a fascinating protagonist in John Wayne Cleaver, a sociopathic mortuary assistant whose self-disciplined quest to avoid hurting people collides with his discovery of actual demons in our world. That story came to the screen in a late 2016 film adaptation starring a creepy Christopher Lloyd, while 2017 found Wells wrapping up the book series with the sixth installment, Nothing Left to Lose. If this is the end for Cleaver, it comes at the end of a year that gave the local author's distinctive vision an even bigger audience. (SR)

    Best simple date
    SLC Greenbike the city

    Judging by your Tinder profiles, the ideal date activity is a combination of yoga, Sunday school, rock climbing and dog petting all while overlooking Horseshoe Bend. But if that's not a feasible option, riding bikes around downtown is a fun alternative. With SLC Greenbike, you or your date don't even have to own a set of wheels. The cost is $7 per bike; you have to return to a check-in station—more than 30 exist, most of which are centered around downtown—every 30 minutes. This gives you a chance to stop in one of Salt Lake City's numerous bars for a quick drink or snack before you get back to pedaling. (DWH)


    Best DIY experience at a concert
    The Utah Blues Festival's Cigar Box Guitar-Making Workshop

    Side attractions at music festivals are nothing new—but how many of them teach you to build an instrument? For $25, Utah Blues Festival organizers provided two dozen attendees with everything needed to make their own fretless, three-string cigar box guitars with piezo pickups. Parallel to this, a free workshop instructed even more fans in the art of making a bottleneck slide from liquor and wine bottles. Fun, instructive and loaded with replay value, it's sure to be a perennial UBF hit. (RH)

    Best night ride that is similar in name to a tax plan by a 2012 Republican presidential candidate/pizza expert:
    The 999

    The cool-kid bike posse that navigates through the city on Thursdays like a swarm of hipster bees, known as the 999, derives its name from Salt Lake's trendiest intersection, 900 South and 900 East, and the hour of the event, 9 p.m. (On at least one occasion, riders milled in front of Coffee Garden, drinking tallboys until closer to 10, but whatever.) Leave your 1040 at home, though; it has nothing to do with Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax proposal. Also don't be intimidated, either. The pack of pedalers embraces newcomers. The ride is breezy, social and accompanied by sick boombox anthems. (DWH)

    Best up-close and-personal choreography
    Utah Rep's Kiss of the Spider Woman

    Smaller theater companies often have to make due with smaller spaces. That's the nature of the business, and sometimes a particular challenge when you're trying to mount a musical. But Utah Repertory Theater Co.'s production of Kiss of the Spider Woman—guided by director Johnny Hebda and choreographer Ashley Gardner-Carlson—made magnificent use of the confines of Sorenson Unity Center's Black Box Theatre. As the dancers in the psychological drama about political prisoners spun and kicked close enough to audience members for bits of feather boas to land in their laps, the show took on an even greater intensity. (SR)

    Best monthly event where you can yell the shit outta' your feelings (controlled, poetic yelling, that is)
    Salt City/Sugar Slam

    Throw on those horn-rimmed glasses you've been wanting to debut, light up a cigarette you rolled yourself, and head on down to the monthly Salt City and Sugar Slam reading put on by the Wasatch Wordsmiths. Seriously, though, Salt City and Sugar Slam are excellent events, wherein attendees, whether virgin-slammers or not, can experience the city's poetic pulse and, trust me, it's a wild one. Yeah, there's some yelling, but it's for a purpose, and if there's anything slam has brought the literary world, it's an extra emphasis on the purpose of a poem's sonic quality. And don't forget while you're there that if you're feeling brave, you can take advantage of the open-mic portion of the slam. Come on, even if you're a regular 9-to-5-er, the Lord knows you've got some stanzas to share. (JF)

    Best display of potential moral depravity
    U92's Summer Jam, featuring, FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER IN UTAH, Chris Brown

    In the nineteen-hundred and ninety-sixth year of our ethnically universal, gender transcendent Lord, Tupac Shakur released a would-be legendary song with an intro that went like this: "Only God can judge me/ Only God can judge me now/ Nobody else/ All you motherf•ckers get out my business/ Only God can judge me now." Our good friends at U92, Utah's only hip-hop (sort-of) radio station, certainly took 'Pac's advice this summer when they featured questionable artist Chris Brown at their annual Summer Jam concert. Now, City Weekly and I are both not God, so there's no room for us to say, definitely, that anything was wrong about this year's Summer Jam. But we can, perhaps, point to the station's shameless promotion of an artist who is seemingly just as shameless about his, well, troubling track record, and say, "This seems ... off." Whatever the case, allowing Utahns—FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER—to see Breezy live was sort of thoughtful, and God is most likely not real anyway. (JF)

    Best way to learn about the local LGBTQ community
    Equality Utah's QTalks

    One of the latest educational efforts to come from Equality Utah is QTalks, a series of hour-long talks featuring four local experts who tell stories or lecture for 15 minutes each on topics related to Utah's LGBTQ community. Though it's billed as a lecture series, it's much more than that. The first time I watched it—via live video, although you can go to the free event at SLC's public library as well—I laughed, I cried and I learned so much because it's impossible not to be enthralled by the passion of each speaker on stage. If you're looking to learn more about the unique issues facing Utah's queer community, this is the way to go. (AH)

    Best cross-cultural Exhibition
    Utah Museum of Contemporary Art's Cities of Conviction

    It's easy for rhetoric to make "others" seem like something completely unknowable; part of the joy of art is the way it can show us how much more alike we are than we ever realized. Curator Jared Steffensen gathered works by Saudi artists in multiple media, in an exhibition that draws compelling parallels between one desert location steeped in a specific religious tradition, and the one in which we live. The result provides both an insight into the unique specifics of Saudi culture, and a recognition of the ways Salt Lake City might face issues and obstacles that these people would also recognize. (SR)
    20 S. West Temple, 801-328-4201,

    Best free concert series for yo' cheap ass
    Salt City Sounds

    Not including the $5 troop of Keystone Light tall-boys and slices of post-concert Pie Hole pizza during each weekly excursion, I spent a whopping $0 to see four weekly concerts at SLC's Gallivan Center. Yeah, well, what hacks performed at a four-week-long, free concert series, you might ask? Oh, you know, Saint Motel, who are indie-pop's most dance-y-est group out, Diplo-endorsed DJ Party Favor and two acts that are God's akin to Zeus, Hades and Poseidon on the dirty south's Mt. Olympus—Lil Jon and the Ying Yang Twins. Yes, for literally no money at all, Utahns got crunk wit' it, got loose wit' it and perhaps for those who really follow the letter of the law, like $hort said, let Bruce Bruce hit it, for four splendid weeks. Shouts to you, Broadway Media and the Gallivan Center. You gave the myriad cheap asses of Utah four fabulous nights. (JF)

    Best day this year for festival addicts
    Sept. 9, 2017

    It seems like every year a glut of city events fall on one jam-packed day, and this year it was Sept. 9. Understandable, then, if you weren't sure how to fit in everything. Here was a prospective itinerary that you can use as a model for the future (usually the first weekend in September): Start off the morning taking in a Ferris wheel ride at the Utah State Fair, then measure up the cows and pigs until lunchtime. Next, head up to the Wasatch Community Garden for its annual Tomato Sandwich Party. Enjoy a free open-faced sandwich with a variety of juicy, locally grown tomatoes and a fresh pesto spread. Afterwards, head up to the Avenues Street Fair, listen to karaoke, get a henna tattoo, haggle with a geode vender and cool off with a frozen snack before hitting up SLC VegFest at Library Square for good karma, falafel and a cold beer. At the end of the day, mosey over to the Greek Festival at the Holy Trinity Cathedral for some baklava and another brew. (DWH),,,,

    Best altruistic music festival

    It's not unusual for a music festival to have a charity component, whether it directly benefits an institution, donates a percentage of the proceeds or simply allows altruistic organizations to set up booths promoting their respective causes. Local sandwich shop chain Even Stevens is all about giving, donating the value of one sandwich for every one purchased in its stores. They upped the ante with Givestock, donating two meals for every ticket sold, while offering incredible value to the fans with 10 bands including headliners Dr. Dog and a host of top-shelf locals including Joshua James, Panthermilk, Fictionist and The National Parks. (RH)


    Best affordable handmade jewelry
    The Bearded Jeweler

    I love jewelry. But would you guess that from looking at me? Nope. Not even close. I never wear it, and here is why: I'm hypersensitive to most metals, so I can only wear solid gold or silver, which I rarely can afford. I also detest flashy accessories. To say the least, I was pretty excited to find The Bearded Jeweler at the Downtown Farmers Market recently. Nearly every handmade piece of his is solid sterling silver, and at an unbelievably low price. He makes rings, earrings and pendant necklaces that are so subtly feminine, with beautiful designs mostly geared toward nature—including several Utah-inspired ones. I bought a simple horizontal bar pendant stamped with moon phases for $26, and will definitely buy more soon. (AH)


    Best empowering moment for Utah women
    Women's March to the Capitol

    It's not easy being a woman. Actually, it's pretty miserable sometimes. But despite the fact that everyone has always known this, it's uncommon for the average person to go out of their way in an effort to change that. Protests happen everywhere all the time; I've been to many, and it's almost always smaller than you expect, with the same types of people in attendance. The Women's March to the Capitol on Jan. 23, however, was a completely different experience. Seeing the vast number of people willing to take two hours out of their Monday afternoon to fight for your rights, climbing the long and steep Capitol Hill in the snow with such a diverse crowd—young and old people of all genders and backgrounds, moms and dads with babies, teens with their pets, elderly people with walkers, politicians in suits and more—was emotionally shocking. It was one of the most empowering, uplifting experiences in my life. (AH)

    Best punk thing to happen to Utah since the Kennedys played at the fairgrounds in '85
    X96's 801PUNX radio show, hosted by former Rancid drummer Branden Steineckert

    After a week's worth of Bleachers' "Don't Take the Money," Dreamers' "Sweet Disaster" and New Politics' "One of Us" on repeat every hour, X96 takes a break from crushing its listeners' alt-music-starved souls and does something really, really right. 801PUNX, hosted by former Rancid drummer Branden Steineckert, is a hell ride of an evening radio show, beginning, appropriately, at 8:01 p.m. each Sunday. The segment treats listeners to both classic, more-mainstream punk (an oxymoron, we know) and some of the best and gritty DIY stuff the genre has to offer. Music aside, the hosts of the show, of course, aren't too bad either. Thank you, X96, for throwing us listeners a bone. (JF)
    96.3 FM,

    Best Sundance replacement
    Ogden Film Festival

    When the Sundance Film Festival opted not to return to Peery's Egyptian Theater as a venue for 2017, the city of Ogden and its film buffs could have wallowed in their disappointment. Instead, local organizers—in conjunction with the Ogden Arts Festival—decided, despite a tight timetable, to launch a new showcase for filmmakers in June. Several Utah native or Utah-based filmmakers were among the first batch of invitees, ensuring that the Egyptian Theater remained a place to see unique and creative filmmaking—even if it happens to be in summer rather than winter. (SR)

    Best joust for fun
    Knights of Mayhem

    Wearing full suits of armor and being thrown from a horse—it's not just for the 16th century anymore. Led by reigning world jousting champion Charlie Andrews, Knights of Mayhem show their commitment to a centuries-old tradition by employing a full-time armorer for the authentic armor, and going full-contact with 11-foot-long hemlock jousting lances. At the Utah Renaissance Faire and other showcases, you can get a a taste of the bruising reality of the Middle Ages. (SR)

    Best literary treasure trove
    Central Book Exchange Parking Lot Sale

    While perusing Central Book Exchange is always a book scavenger's delight, their annual Parking Lot Sale has many of us word nerds squealing with glee. For one weekend each summer, the big tent goes up and the storage rooms are emptied as flocks of patrons dig through boxes in search of the perfect pages. Stock up your personal library for the year and make sure to hit the sale when they've got the "Fill a Bag for $10" deal going on. (SA)
    2017 S. 1100 East, 801-485-3913,

    • ISTOCK

    Best way to communicate while driving
    Use Your Damn Signals

    Ever get stuck behind someone that shoots left across the lanes, as though some giant just used their car to tee off and sliced it? How about the car that slows down two miles before making a right turn, without once signaling their intent? Then there's the car that keeps nudging into your lane. Since this move is minus a flashing light to indicate they are attempting to merge, the best assumption is they are either drunk or crazy. To all these scenarios there is one simple solution: Use. Your. Damn. Signal. Until cars think for us and communicate with each other, it's up to us drivers to go the extra mile by manually flipping on those blinkers to let others know what the hell we're up to. (AP)

    Best Ballet Showcase
    Ballet West National Choreographic Festival

    Never let it be said that Ballet West artistic director Adam Sklute doesn't think big. In May, dancers from several national companies—including Sarasota Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Oregon Ballet Theater—visited Salt Lake City for two weekends of world premieres by talented choreographers. Ballet West's own performers got to take the stage as well, of course, allowing audiences to see local dancers not just as the best Utah has to offer, but as part of a national artistic community. Presenting brand-new work and companies new to local audiences provided a reminder that this vital art form isn't all Nutcracker and tutus. (SR)


    Best LGBTQ Youth Sanctuary
    Provo's Encircle

    The fact that Provo had gone so long without an LGBTQ resource center isn't surprising when you consider its overwhelming conservative, religious population. But when you first walk through the doors of the charming little home of Encircle, hear the laughter and enthusiasm echoing through its halls, and meet the countless locals brimming with joy from a newfound sense of community, it's more than surprising. Opened on Valentine's Day 2017, Provo's first organization for LGBTQ youth and families says it perfectly on their website: "Encircle not only provides a physical space for community gathering, skills training, individual counseling, conflict resolution and other resources, but will also serve as a literal example of what a typical Utah home that is inclusive of its LGBTQ members, might look and feel like." (AH)
    91 W. 200 South, Provo,

    Best Utah Radio Segment
    KRCL's 12 o'Clock Women Who Rock

    Each day at noon, godsend radio station KRCL graces listeners with a break from the usual male, rock 'n' roll radio monotony (OK, OK—most of what the station plays, whether by males, females or individuals outside the binary, is enjoyable, but you get the idea). The station's 12 o'Clock Women Who Rock segment features music by female artists from all levels of the well-known-ness strata. The segment also offers primers on the day's featured artist and a usual discussion of the artist's life and work, which allows listeners to not only hear music by a great female musician, but also get to know her a little better. Tune in, turn on and drop out ... of the ranks of sad, sad radio listeners who don't listen to the noon-time segment. It certainly speaks for itself. (JF)
    90.9 FM,

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